Saturday, February 28, 2009

product placement = bambinoLUK & miniLUK

Found these cool educational toys from Germany recently. The system has been around for about 30 years and is widely-used worldwide. I can't begin to explain how it works, but it is worth going to their website and checking out the demo. To describe it poorly, the child uses tiles to match and you flip the "controller" (the plastic board doo-hickey) and it reveals clearly to your child whether or not they did it correctly by showing a picture that is obviously either correct or messed up.
I'm still weighing whether I'm going to get the bambinoLUK (the 3 - 5 year old version) for the girlies...I'm still in the "I must follow The Well Trained Mind exactly as written" stage of homeschool research and preparation, and I don't think these fit into the grammar stage model of learning. I bet I'll soften on this soon enough.
Click here to visit the manufacturer's website: beyond123.
The best prices I found were at Timberdoodle. They aren't expensive, but not dirt cheap. There is a more-advanced controller system (miniLUK) with more tiles that can be used from age 5 through probably high school. Some of those puzzles are really, really tough.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

unplugging from facebook

I'll keep this short and sweet: I'm giving up Facebook for Lent. Thank you Kellie at La Vida Dulce for the shot of courage.

If you want to ask me why, I'll be happy to answer via e-mail...

Keep me accountable, friends!

Love, Steph

catching up

Since Ingrid got glasses, it has become quite apparent that we have some catching up to do. I just feel AWFUL that she has been fighting her eyesight for this long.

She really doesn't know her alphabet by sight...she can write letters okay, but just doesn't recognize those letters if pointed out to her. Strange thing is, she knew her letters when she was two. Hmmm. I wonder when her eyesight went south...

Anywayzzzzz, I have been reading "The Well Trained Mind" to prepare for this homeschooling adventure we are about to embark upon. One simple suggestion the author has is to purchase sets of magnetic uppercase and lower letters. I couldn't find them here in Almost Mexico (honestly, I didn't look that hard), but it did serve as an "excuse" to peruse the web; I found them on a great children's products website, (I get it... "tater tots, gator tots"; the letters were harder to find that you would think). They have great customer service, provide extremely quick shipping and have some super things I haven't seen anyplace else (like these ladybug lacing puzzles -- lots of skill-learning with these little the picture to buy 'em), and those of you who know me well know that I know where to find cool kids' stuff (know too well...)

I digress...back to Ingrid and her alphabet: we sat by the stainless steel kickplate that is located under our counter/bar and started from the beginning...A B C... I think things will start cookin' now. Hey, what beginning phonics programs have you homeschool families used? What were your impressions? Strengths? Challenges? I'm considering Phonics Pathways and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.

Friday, February 13, 2009

silly mommy

Anyone out there watch -- ahem -- put on "Charlie & Lola" for their little ones? If not, "it's worth giving it a go." It's a really clever animated children's series from the UK, based upon the series of children's books by Lauren Childs of the same name (she also wrote the "Clarice Bean" book series).

Anywayz....Ingy has loved it since she was almost 3, when it used to be on Playhouse Disney (I don't know if it's still on because, well, see my rant a few weeks ago). There is a character that the children like to watch at the movies and read in comics. For 3 years now, I have thought his name was "Fat Cat." Ingrid gently corrected me today, "No Mommy, he's BAT Cat." I had to prove it for myself, so I turned on the subtitles. I think it's time to get a hearing test.

PS Lauren Childs' website is really clever! Check it out...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

worldliness defined

“That system of values, in any given age, which...makes sin look normal and righteousness seem strange.”
- David Wells, Losing Our Virtue, p. 4

Thank you again, Pastor Andy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

happy 5th birthday sweet ingrid!

Let me count the ways that I can not even believe Ingrid is 5. I recalled such sweet memories as I waited in bed Monday morning waiting for first light. From the fears of the night before her birth, to Chad telling me we had a beautiful baby girl as I came out of the post c-section delivery anaesthesia fog, to the flowers in the room, even the smell of the special lavendar lotion that my Mom had sent me for the hospital.

Monday was her day, although we stretched her birthday from Friday through Tuesday. Chad didn't know if he would be home on time Monday night, as his schedule can be unpredictable. We celebrated on Friday with her choice of dinner -- caesar salad, focaccia and strawberries (that's my girl!) -- we had her cake and opened gifts as well.

On Saturday we went to the Renaissance Fair (Society for Creative Anachronism central -- made for GREAT people watching). Sunday we went to church, rested, had leftover cake and just had an overall generally nice day.

Monday, her real birthday, was loooooong. She had her first eye appointment at 9:30 am, and we were told that she needed glasses, so we trucked over to the Mall and picked out glasses (finished in an hour, just like the promise), went to Chad's office to show them off (skipping lunch -- it's 12:55 at this point), "Mommy, I'm tired, I just want to go home", at the gas station 5 minutes from home: "Mommy, my glasses feel AWFUL -- we need to go get them tightened, crying, crying, crying", so back to the Mall for adjustment (it's about 2:30 now), then back home by about 3:30. I plopped the girls in front of the TV for an on-demand viewing of WALL-E while I made 48 cupcakes for her pre-k class on Tuesday, and finished her pink crocheted cardigan.
It was a ducky birthday all around -- what a switch from a few months ago. It was "Ariel, Ariel, Ariel!!!" She has returned to her ducky ways. (I'm thrilled.) I'm just so thankful to the Lord for her vitality, intellect, curiosity, beauty, personality and creativity. What a gift she is!
Happy 5th, Ingy Badingy!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

taking the plunge

So....we've decided to homeschool Ingrid in the fall. Kinder, we figure, is a great way to dip our feet in the water, as there is "nothing to lose" -- according the State, which of course is untrue -- there is a LOT to lose, and that's the reason we've chosen this mode of education.

Both girls are home sick today, Ingrid not as snotty as Ilsa, but enough to remain away from the germ factory that is Pre-K. So I decided to "homeschool" her -- she was thrilled. I have a few educational things here at home that I've been collecting: a bunch of Kumon workbooks, "The Big Book of Questions and Answers About Jesus" workbook that we picked up at the Ligonier conference last summer, and I printed worksheets for the letter X, as that is what she would have been doing today at school.
The thing that excites me most is that she was so engaged with the Bible lesson. She went and grabbed the book, then got HER Bible off of the shelf (it's a real one, not a kiddie Bible) and brought them to me. We sat on the couch and read out of The Word, then did the workbook together. Ilsa listend as long as her 3 year old ears could last, and then toddled off to do princess stickers. Here is Ingrid's picture of the burning bush of Exodus 2; the lesson was about the names of God -- specifically why Jesus' name means "The Lord Saves", hence the Exodus 2 reading. The brown blobs above "I AM" are Moses' sandals :) The model for the bush is our pokey Catsclaw Acacia in the front is tall and pokey and brown and icky.

We were done in 1 hour! And she did GREAT! I could have done more, but I could see she was dragging, and Ilsa needed attention, as well.
I'm excited. I have a smile on my face. I am re-energized about her education!
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